Course Review: Tapatio Springs

If you should accidentally take the Johns Road West exit off Interstate 10 in the Boerne area, the first 3 miles of your side trip will be unremarkable. Lush vegetation and various forms of human habitation pretty well block your view of the surround ng countryside. But then, about the end of Mile 3, the roadway opens up a bit and you start to get your first glimpse of some real Hill Country. By the time you enter the grounds of Tapatio Springs, you’re gasping in delight with the views and vistas that surround you.

As a hard-core golfer, though, you didn’t come to “the Springs” to admire the scenery. You came to play golf on a course that has been rated several times by The Dallas Morning News as one of the “top ten courses in Texas.” You’ve come to do battle with The Emperor Par on courses named “Valleys,” and “Lakes,” and “The Ridge.”

The problem is, no matter how dedicated a golfer you are, you just can’t help but notice the lush fairways (overseeded in winter so they’re emerald green year-round), the tightly manicured greens, the breath-taking elevation drops from tee box to green, or the towering, tree-covered canyon walls that hover over you as you wind your way through the course.

Bill Johnston, an award winning golf course planner, designed Tapatio Springs. The idea was to create a course that complimented the natural landscape on this 1800-acre piece of property, not one that would compete with it or radically modify its natural state. And he was enormously successful. Each hole seems to fall right into line with the contours of the land, rather than appearing to have been “carved out” of the earth. The good news is that the resulting courses are beautiful; the bad news is that I was unable to find a single level lie on any of the fairways except on the tee boxes.

The oldest courses at the Springs are the Valley and the Lakes. They are nine holes each, with a total distance of 6500 yards. This combination gives the golfer a par-72 layout that will force some rather careful planning and precise shot management. Unlike some of the wide open courses built on the flat farm land east of Interstate 35, Tapatio Springs encourages, no, it demands that the golfer think about each shot long before it is made. The wise golfer will play “position ball” if the objective is to keep the score out of the triple digits.

The newest and most challenging addition to the Tapatio Springs golf complex is The Ridge. I find it to be the most difficult, by a large margin, of the three courses. I personally think that The Ridge is the prettiest of the courses. (And Valley and Lakes are beautiful!) While the total yardage is not as great as the other two, The Ridge makes up for any perceived deficit in length by providing the golfer with plenty of narrow fairways that slope dramatically to the left or right, huge rock outcroppings to catch miss-hit balls, small lakes and stream beds to catch what the outcroppings should miss, and roughs that invite the searcher to wear snake-proof boots, carry a machete, and bring all the equipment needed to rappel safely down into their depths.

As you would expect from a first class golf operation, these Three Hill Country gems are supported by a fully stocked and expertly manned pro shop, a driving range, a putting green, on-board golf cart GPS units, and an excellent dining facility. If you’d like to spend a few nights at Tapatio Springs to really sample the ambience, hotel rooms and condos are available both as stand-alone or as “stay and play” packages. Wherever we went in the complex, the staff members were knowledgeable, helpful and friendly, and appeared to be dedicated to making sure that our “Tapatio Experience” was a positive one! And it was!

I give Tapatio Springs a strong, “two thumbs up” rating, and strongly suggest that you put it on your short list of places to visit.

Tapatio Springs Golf Course and Resort
Johns Road West; Boerne, TX 78006
Tel: 800-999-3299 or 830-537-4611. When you make your tee time, be sure to ask if they have any “specials” running.
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